Driverless Car Waymo Ordered Thousands of MiniVans from Fiat Chrysler – Fiat-Chrysler Automobiles declared Tuesday that Waymo has ordered tens of thousands of Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid minivans for shipping by the end of this year as Google’s self-driving subsidiary expands its driverless ride-hailing support to multiple towns.
The Pacifica hybrid vehicle will be Waymo’s primary workhorse when its support debuts in Phoenix sometime this season. Other cities have not been declared.
The sleek minivans will be outfitted with steering wheels, but won’t have drivers from front seats. Waymo, that had previously purchased 600 Pacificas, is expected to launch the world’s first driverless service provided to the general public. General Motors has petitioned the national government to allow its own Chevy Bolt autonomous vehicles — the first robotic cars without steering wheels — on the street by 2019.
“With the world’s first fleet of fully self-driving vehicles in the street, we’ve moved from development and research to operations and installation,” Waymo manager John Krafcik said in a statement. “The Pacifica Hybrid minivans offer you a versatile inside and a comfy ride experience, and these additional vehicles will help us climb.”
The three-row minivans are produced in Windsor and then sent to a centre in Metro Detroit in which they are outfitted with self-driving hardware and software by a group of Waymo and Chrysler engineers.
The hybrid powertrain makes an ideal vehicle to adapt Waymo’s self-driving technology, including high-powered computers and lidar, which uses lasers to “see” what is around the car.
“To be able to move quickly and efficiently in autonomy, it is crucial to partner with like-minded technology leaders,” said FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne. “Our partnership with Waymo continues to grow and strengthen; this signifies the latest sign of our commitment to this technology”
Last November in Phoenix, Waymo began test-driving its fleet of minivans. While passengers are free to occupy any of the three rows of seats, the second row includes video displays so that occupants can follow the road from the vehicle’s view.
With drivers, Waymo achieved a landmark as the first so-called “Level 4” autonomous vehicles, which may operate without drivers in limited geographical regions.
GM has been testing its Volt AV fleet in San Francisco in conjunction with Cruise Automation, and Uber and Volvo have been conducting public evaluations in Pittsburgh.
Chrysler began its collaboration with Waymo in late 2016 together with the shipping of 100 Pacifica hybrids. An extra 500 were delivered in 2017.